Surf Excel offers a different take on stains

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | September 05, 2005
Surf Excel's latest ad, conceived by Lowe, positions itself differently from other ads in the category, by sparking the thought that getting dirty could actually be good

While most detergent brands & #BANNER1 & # continue shouting about providing a 'spotlessly clean' wash, Surf Excel has always made attempts to break away from the clutter. Witness 'Jaise Bhi Daag Ho… Surf Excel Hai Na (Any Kind of Stains… Surf Excel is There)' or 'Do Bucket Paani… Ab Rozana Hai Bachana (Must Save Two Buckets of Water Every Day)'.

But the new communication message for Surf Excel offers a completely different take on stains - 'Daag Achhe Hain (Stains are Good)'. This new brand communication message for Surf Excel has been adopted worldwide by Unilever.

Nitin Paranjpe, vice-president, laundry and household cleaners, Hindustan Lever, says, "Other adverts in the detergent category generally focus on the product benefits. But for a brand such as Surf Excel, which has high equity, there is no need to show the product in action. People are clever enough to decode the message."

It might take guts to make such a bold statement about stains being good, but it's more difficult to actually convince the consumers.

The latest Surf Excel commercial - conceived by Lowe - has done it very effectively. The TVC opens with a shot of two children on their way home from school. When the little girl falls into a puddle, dirtying herself, she starts howling. That's when her protective brother rises to the occasion, determined to seek revenge.

He bravely dives into the puddle and begins to pound it left, right and centre, threatening it and demanding that it apologise to his sister. After wrestling with the puddle for a while, he emerges all muddy and stained, proudly declaring, "Sorry bola (The puddle said it was sorry)."

The two continue walking home after the brother 'warns' the puddle not to do it again. This is when the pack shot comes into focus for the first time, and the female voiceover goes on to explain that if a person grows with an experience, then the resultant dirt is good. She concludes, "Surf Excel: Daag Achche Hain."

"Such a campaign adds even greater stature to the brand and breaks the paradigm," says Paranjpe.

"Just the simple idea of a kid emulating adult behaviour and pacifying his little sister has been brought out in such an endearing manner that even parents wouldn't mind their kids getting dirty, if they are growing with the experience. In that little moment, when the boy protected his sister and took revenge, the boy was growing up," he explains.

Priti Nair Chakravarthy, executive creative director, Lowe, feels that an insight which has more to do with human behaviour, rather than being just brand-related, always works. She says, "Everyone, at some point in life, has done what that boy did. After this ad, people will look at kids in a new light. The boy pounds the puddle so charmingly that the muck doesn't look bad at all! Dirt is actually good for you; it is the experience and how you grow with it that matters."

But some parents might object to kids jumping into puddles and dirtying themselves. Paranjpe of Hindustan Lever agrees: "Initially, the viewer may find it a bit difficult to accept such a stand, but if you strip the layers of the ad, the learning experience is something that every parent will admit he wants for his child."

He further clarifies, "It is the fear of dirt that stops parents from allowing their kids to enjoy such fun experiences. The fact is that parents want such experiences for their kids, but without worrying about the stain factor. Surf Excel's view on stains is very different from other brands, and this helps it stand out."

Chakravarthy of Lowe concludes, "Surf Excel commercials have always been about kids. It would have been far too easy to show the kids playing in a field, or participating in a sport, and getting dirty. But this platform is far more powerful, as the whole trick is to bring out something so unexpected out of a kid - the fact that he wants to behave like an adult."

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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